Little Nellie to star in celebration of Ken Wallis’ life

Little Nellie to star in celebration of Wing Commader Ken Wallis' life.

Little Nellie to star in celebration of Wing Commader Ken Wallis' life. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2005

The symbol of a Norfolk aviator's invention and skill will be displayed at a public celebration of his life later this month.

Wing Commander Ken Wallis, the record-breaking autogyro pilot who flew as James Bond's stunt double, died in Dereham earlier this month aged 97.

One of his best-known creations and the undisputed star of the James Bond film You only Live Twice, Little Nellie, will be on display in the Blister Hangar at Old Buckenham Airfield on September 29 to pay homage to the great man.

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Just two months ago Wing Commander Wallis received his medal for his time in Bomber Command and, days before he died, the great-grandfather asked for his miniature working pistols to be brought to his bedside to be oiled.

His passion for innovation will be marked at the day filled with displays of aviation, engineering, film, classic cars, boats and bikes.

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Organisers said the public response to the day had broken all previous records for pre-booked arrival slots by air at the airfield and said there would be a huge mix of aircraft from all eras at the event.

Breckland Council has waived normal restrictions on the airfield to allow for autogyros for the day, and organisers said the large number of autogyros at the event would be appropriate to mark the wing commander's life.

Matt Wilkins, airfield manager and organiser, said: 'Wing Commander Wallis was arguably the greatest exponent of the autogyro and it will be entirely fitting that an extraordinary number and mix of machines will make up a very special and unique display.

'Since September 29 was announced we have received a constant stream of emails and messages from all over the globe.

'All of them have included wonderful stories and reminiscences of Wing Commander Wallis and all attest to the simple fact that he was a gentleman, national treasure and hero. The result is that we fervently hope that September 29 will be truly memorable and unique, in accord with the legend we are honouring.

'Looking at the machines and people likely to be here we anticipate that our main aim will be achieved: to create the sort of event that Wing Commander Wallis would have loved.'

As well as the exhibits, various charities of which Wing Commander Wallis was patron will have displays around the airfield.

Visitors will be invited to fill out tribute cards that will form a permanent record and exhibit, to be displayed in the future.

The event starts at 10am and is open to everyone. There is no charge for entry to the public.

The airfield has made arrangements for additional parking to cope with extra numbers anticipated and they no longer need members of the public coming by modern car to book in.

Classic vehicle owners who have not already let organisers know they are attending are asked to email airfield@oldbuck.com

Aircraft owners are asked to book in online by filling out the form at www.oldbuck.com/en/fly-in/

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